Cartoon: Fantasy for Soprano Saxophone

by Anthony Ritchie, concerto for soprano saxophone and orchestra, Opus 70

A quirky but also soulful piece for an unusual and beautiful instrument. Reasonably easy to play.

Programme Note

This concerto was commissioned by New Zealander Mark Hobson with financial assistance from the Arts Council of New Zealand. It is in one continuous movement, divided into three main sections.

The first section has a cartoon-like character: it is cheeky, changeable and light in spirit, but has darker elements as well. The fast tempo eventually fades into a slow, lyrical section that features a soulful melody on oboe over slowly shifting harmonies. Here the mood is sorrowful and reflective. The third section opens with bold chords on the piano, before a wistful theme appears on oboe, in waltz time. The tempo accelerates and the music becomes agitated and driven. The waltz theme is integrated into this faster tempo leading to a cadenza-like passage towards the end, over a percussive piano rhythm. The sonata ends with a fragment of the oboe waltz theme, underpinned by strong piano chords.

Ritchie transcribed the work for oboe and piano in 2002, and oboe and orchestra in 2018, and also for saxophone and piano. All versions are available.